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The 25 greatest mic moments in wrestling history
March 26, 2013
For all those folks who say talk is cheap, the real truth is that an unforgettable few minutes behind a microphone can change a Superstar's career. Here, WWE.com gets vocal about 25 sports-entertainment speeches that were quotable, captivating and, sometimes, downright chilling. Listen up. You might learn something, presented by PureTalk.
“The winos know my name.” — Dusty Rhodes on Jan. 25, 1984 in Mid-Atlantic
Dusty Rhodes did not strike fear in the heart of his opponents with oversized muscle or far-flung boasts. The American Dream was a common man, and he made sure his opponents realized that the common people had his back.
In this January 1984 monologue, Rhodes let The Assassins and Paul Jones know that wherever they went — from the alleys of New York to the gutters of Atlanta — everyone in the street knew who he was. Calling himself the “bleached blond with star-spangled eyes that was chosen to come to war in this last decade,” The American Dream let his rivals know that a fight was coming when — and where — they least expected it. — BOBBY MELOK
“I hate you.” — Edge on April 10, 2009 in WWE
The Rated-R Superstar’s rivalry with John Cena was, perhaps, his greatest. That’s because Edge’s disdain for Cena was intense. After the Cenation leader ended Edge’s first WWE Title reign, the hatred only grew.
There was no better example of Edge’s contempt than on this April 2009 edition of SmackDown, when The Ultimate Opportunist made it clear that everything about the Cenation leader made him sick. From his hat to his wristbands, the West Newbury, Mass., native inspired something sinister in The Rated-R Superstar. On this night, like he did on many others, Edge found the right words to describe exactly how he felt. — B.M.
“Shove that control into a nosedive, Hulk Hogan!” — Ultimate Warrior in March 1990 in WWE
As a Day-Glo maniac from Parts Unknown, Ultimate Warrior’s unbridled intensity excited members of the WWE Universe all over the world. But that intensity also led to some of the most incomprehensible monologues in sports-entertainment’s great history of incomprehensible monologues.
Warrior had countless bizarre rants, but his most memorable was delivered before his pivotal match with Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VI. Speaking in a disconcerting growl, Warrior provided a frightening tale of The Hulkster’s self-destruction. Ranting for four minutes about Hulk Hogan commandeering and crashing an airplane, pilots who have made the sacrifice and asking his warriors if “they smell it,” Ultimate Warrior succeeded in both baffling his opponent and getting himself on the TSA’s No-Fly List. Was it madness or a clever ploy to confuse the enemy before combat? Either way it worked as the madman defeated Hogan for the WWE Title. — KEVIN POWERS
“They can all kiss my @$$!” — Shane Douglas on Aug. 27, 1994 in ECW
The moment that started ECW didn’t feature hardcore icons like Raven, Sabu or The Sandman, but a competitor with yellow trunks and fringed boots named Shane Douglas. When WCW left the National Wrestling Alliance in 1993, the NWA chose a small but promising regional organization called Eastern Championship Wrestling to steward the revered NWA World Heavyweight Championship. But the NWA was an antiquated organization that defined everything Paul Heyman and his emerging company wanted to get away from.
After Shane Douglas won a tournament for their vacant title, he threw it to the ground, disparaged legendary former champions and anointed himself the very first Extreme Championship Wrestling Champion. It was a symbolic shift in tone that represented a changing of the guard throughout the world of sports-entertainment. Wrestling would never be the same again and The Franchise’s words made that very clear. — ZACH LINDER
“I know 1004 and I wrote them all down.” — Chris Jericho on March 30, 1998 in WCW
Chris Jericho was a happy-go-lucky guy in WCW, until he began buying into a self-concocted conspiracy theory that the company’s powers-that-be were holding him back. His descent into madness was first noticeable during his rivalry with Dean Malenko.
Desperate to gain any advantage over his opponent, Jericho carried a giant ream of paper with him to the ring and hijacked the Monday Nitro broadcast. He claimed he knew four more holds than Malenko’s 1,000. Jericho then proceeded to read each one out loud, ranting on right through the show’s commercial break. He made it through about 725 moves, many of which were armbar variations, before Prince Iaukea booted him from the ring. Fifteen years later, sports-entertainment fans are still waiting to hear the rest. — B.M.
“You screwed me! Everybody screwed me!” — Bret Hart on March 17, 1997 in WWE
When Nirvana released “Nevermind” in 1991, the album marked the beginning of a decade characterized by grunge rock cynicism — a stark departure from the 1980s days of neon pop and bubble-gum schmaltz. By 1997, WWE’s “New Generation” initiative proved stale and emerging Superstars like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin had already begun to take the ring by storm. One of the last holdouts was quintessential hero Bret “Hit Man” Hart. But when The Excellence of Execution failed to capitalize a on a WWE Championship opportunity, his temper finally got the best of him.
Frustrated with WWE fans’ increasing reluctance to cheer a good guy, Bret shoved then-commentator Mr. McMahon and launched into a shocking profanity-laced tirade that even the “Hit Man’s” biggest detractors never saw coming. The moment remains one of the key signifiers that The Attitude Era was here. — Z.L.
“I am the cream of the crop.” — Randy Savage on May 11, 1987 in WWE
Six weeks after losing his Intercontinental Championship to Ricky Steamboat at WrestleMania III, Randy Savage had something to prove. And “Macho Man” determined it was best to communicate this statement with the most unassuming of items: coffee creamers.
Producing these creamers seemingly out of mid-air, Savage declared that he was the “cream of the crop” and that the “cream will rise to the top.” And indeed it did. Less than one year later, the Sarasota, Fla., native rose to the top and became WWE Champion at WrestleMania IV. The interview was quintessential “Macho Man”: dynamic, assertive with more than a touch of absurdity. — Z.L.
“I feel like God!” — Bob Backlund on Nov. 23, 1994 in WWE
Survivor Series 1994 was the end of an 11-year odyssey for Bob Backlund. A beloved do-gooder during a remarkable six-year reign as WWE Champion in the 1970s and ’80s, the Minnesota native lost the title when his manager — Arnold Skaaland — threw in the towel while the champion was caught in The Iron Sheik’s Camel Clutch. For 11 years, the cherub-faced hero insisted he never lost the title.
After returning to WWE in the 1990s, the former NCAA wrestling champ snapped and transformed from the All-American boy next door to the uptight bowtie-wearing, dictionary-toting madman known as Mr. Backlund. In a twist of irony, he regained the title in the manner he had lost it. During a Submission Match against Bret Hart, the “Hit Man’s” own mother threw in the towel while Backlund had Hart in the Crossface Chicken Wing. Eleven years later, psychotic Bob might not have been God, but he was once again WWE Champion. — Z.L.
“I had a dream last night.” — Terry Funk on June 17, 1989 in WCW
The 1989 rebirth of Terry Funk — the first of many for the dangerous Texan — was glorious not just for his fantastic “I Quit” Match against Ric Flair at Clash of the Champions IX, but for the unforgettable interviews he delivered during his lengthy rivalry with The Nature Boy.
One of the few villains menacing enough to endear the arrogant, amoral Flair to the straight-laced Southern fans, Funk had put Flair in a neckbrace months prior by piledriving him through a ringside table. With the NWA Champion he’d dubbed a “banana-nosed jerk” uncharacteristically vulnerable, Funk publically mocked him in this interview in which he recalled a “beautiful dream.” The bizarre diatribe was basically an eloquent way for Funk to call Flair a jackass, but there was such a feeling of both peril and lunacy in The Funker’s delivery that you couldn’t help but worry for The Nature Boy’s well-being. — RYAN MURPHY
“There are things inside me without remorse.” — Raven on March 30, 1997 in ECW
It’s unfortunate that Raven left Extreme Championship Wrestling in 1997 at a time when his fascinating persona had so much left to offer the growing company. The passion project of ECW’s Dr. Frankenstein, Paul Heyman, Raven had emerged as a captivating, multilayered antagonist who used equal parts grunge rock poetry and cult leader fanaticism to craft his best monologues.
Case in point: This near-seven-minute diatribe delivered in a dreary locker room shower during the buildup to ECW’s first pay-per-view, Barely Legal. Addressing the three competitors that would battle in a Three-Way Dance for an opportunity to challenge for his ECW Title, Raven dissected The Sandman’s mental weakness, Stevie Richards’ fragile ego and Terry Funk’s vulnerable age. With allusions to both biblical parables and the Smashing Pumpkins song “1979,” Raven tore at the hearts of his three rivals before laying bare the most dangerous core of all — his own. — R.M.
“Welcome to the first ever evening with The Rock!” — The Rock on March 24, 2003 in WWE
The Rock has always possessed a rare charisma. He can tear into a live audience, while charming those folks watching at home with his million-dollar smile. Such was the case when The Great One brought his guitar to Sacramento, Calif., in March 2003 to serenade a captive audience with the first “Rock Concert.”
As WrestleMania XIX and a third Show of Shows matchup with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin loomed, The Rock was welcomed with a chorus of cheers, but the night soured when he hit the hook. The former WWE Champion said his favorite part about coming to Sacramento was getting to leave before calling The Texas Rattlesnake “nothing but a redneck, cryin’ all the time.”
The Sactown faithful were not calling for any encores, but it didn’t matter. As The Great One stopped to laugh mid-song at his own lyrics, it was clear he was his own biggest fan. — JEFF LABOON
“I screwed Bret!” — Shawn Michaels on Aug. 15, 2005 in WWE
Everyone in the WWE Universe knew that Shawn Michaels’ return to the site of 1997’s “Montreal Screwjob” was going to be controversial. But when Michaels came strutting down the aisle with his Heartbreak Kid swagger and a punchable smirk not seen since his most insufferable Kliq years, a full-scale riot became a very real possibility.
Did Michaels shy away from the bubbling animosity? Hell no. Instead, he egged it on, greeting a crowd still feeling the sting of Bret Hart’s public mistreatment with, “Who’s your daddy, Montreal?” before launching into a nasty rendition of the Canadian national anthem. HBK’s well-being was already at stake before the “Hit Man’s” music hit. When Hart failed to show up, a bratty Michaels mocked the audience again by saying, “Got your hope up just a little bit, didn’t I?” It’s a miracle the man made it out of Montreal alive. — R.M.
“This is where the power lies!” — Hulk Hogan on Nov. 29, 1986 in WWE
Look, we’re not going to pretend to have any idea what Hulk Hogan was talking about for the majority of his WWE career. The Hulkster’s interviews were a clear case of style over substance. His intensity made it clear that his opponents were going down.
This November 1986 interview before a match with Hercules, however, had us wondering what goes through The Hulkster’s mind before the bell rings. Apparently, all the strength he built up from adventures in the Garden of Eden, a dive 20,000 leagues under the sea and a weightlifting session on the Titanic was all concentrated into one specific location, which Hulk was more than happy to point out. — B.M.
“He mocks God!” — Joey Styles on May 1, 2006 in WWE
For years, Joey Styles was The Extreme Announcer of ECW. Famous for his “OH MY GOD!” catchphrase, the one-man commentary team was hired by WWE in 2005 following his play-by-play work at ECW One Night Stand. Much to his chagrin, Styles soon realized that WWE was nothing like his old Philly stomping grounds. After months of being insulted and overlooked, the commentator had enough.
In front of a live audience, the voice of ECW unleashed the type of “I quit” speech that every disgruntled employee has dreamed of delivering. For nearly 10 minutes, Styles stood on Raw’s entrance ramp and expressed his discontent with the commentary style he felt forced to adopt, Mr. McMahon’s perceived mockery of God and an executive decision that kept him from announcing the Backlash pay-per-view. The Chairman must have appreciated The Extreme Announcer’s moxie, because Styles remains with the company to this day. — K.P.
“I didn’t want to do it, Rey. Why’d you make me do it?” — Eddie Guerrero in May 12, 2005 in WWE
When Eddie Guerrero turned on his friend, Rey Mysterio, by drilling him into the steel ring steps with a vicious brainbuster, the WWE Universe wanted answers. They got what they wanted, but it was not pleasant to hear.
An unhinged Latino Heat sat in the center of a darkened arena with a lone spotlight shining on him and explained that he was just giving Rey Mysterio the fight he wanted. He shocked the WWE Universe by pulling out Mysterio’s mask and delivering a monologue seemingly right out of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” to the hood of his former friend. Gone was the bumping lowrider and mischievous grin of the Latino Heat that WWE fans loved to cheer. In his place sat a very disturbed man. — B.M.
“You can call this the New World Order of wrestling, brother.” — Hulk Hogan on July 17, 1996 in WCW
You know the story by now. WCW Bash at the Beach — July 7, 1996. Hulk Hogan shocked the wrestling world by attacking “Macho Man” Randy Savage and joining forces with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. Looking for an explanation, “Mean” Gene Okerlund questioned his longtime acquaintance about his actions. With irate WCW fans filling the ring with trash, the man who once urged children to say their prayers and eat their vitamins unleashed a vitriolic tirade on the microphone that made it very apparent that this was a different Hulkster.
Unfazed by the discontent of Hulkamaniacs all over the world, Hulk Hogan became Hollywood Hogan and introduced “The New World Order of wrestling, brother.” — K.P.
“Shut your mouth, ya thong wearing fatty!” — The Rock on Dec. 4, 2000 in WWE
The Rock was just a few months away from his star-making turn as the host of “Saturday Night Live” when he hilariously picked apart the five Superstars he would be facing inside Hell in a Cell at Armageddon 2000.
With hapless foil Kevin Kelly (dismissed as an “ugly hermaphrodite” by The Rock) holding the mic, The Great One quickly communicated the dangers of the treacherous cage match before teeing off on “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Triple H with the venomous tongue of a veteran comedian handling a table full of drunken hecklers. The East Rutherford, N.J., crowd came unglued as The Rock effortlessly morphed from a doe-eyed Kurt Angle into a blank-faced Rikishi with dead-on impersonations that announced The Great One as not only the funniest Superstar of all time, but also the most theatrically gifted. — R.M.
“You turn the camera off and I’ll be naked when you come back.” — Ric Flair on Dec. 28, 1998 in WCW
At Starrcade 1998, Ric Flair was defeated by WCW President and nWo corporate mastermind Eric Bischoff following interference from Curt Hennig. The next night on Nitro, The Nature Boy delivered perhaps the single greatest — and certainly the wildest — interview of his illustrious career.
Addressing an excited Baltimore crowd, Flair refuted Bischoff’s claims that he was broke as only Slick Ric can. Undressing while describing his expensive wardrobe in detail, The Nature Boy reminded the world that he was, “custom-made from head to toe!” Flair ripped up $100 bills, threw his Gucci shoes into the crowd and elbow-dropped the mat while in his boxers. The rant ended on an even nuttier note as Flair handcuffed himself to the ropes and threatened to disrobe completely as the show went to commercial break. Thankfully, Naitch never went that far. — K.P.
“You stole my legacy.” — Paul Heyman on Nov. 15, 2001 in WWE
Paul Heyman’s sinister involvement in the 2001 WCW/ECW Invasion of WWE was cathartic for the mad scientist of extreme. After watching his company crumble earlier that year, he helped orchestrate a McMahon family feud that would alter the course of sports-entertainment.
But there was no moment more therapeutic for Heyman than his confrontation of Mr. McMahon on the SmackDown before the final showdown between the two sides at Survivor Series. Irate in the face of the man who he believed crippled his company, Heyman unleashed the same pent-up rage held by every promoter that competed with WWE’s Chairman. The ECW mastermind almost looked relieved after he let out his anger over Mr. McMahon allegedly aping ECW’s ideas. In truth, he was just getting started. — B.M.
“Wallowing in the muck of avarice.” — Jake Roberts on April 1, 1990 in WWE
Jake Roberts’ best speeches were often his most sinister — no one delivered a wicked preacher’s sermon better than “The Snake” — but Roberts could be even better in the unfamiliar role of heroic avenger. Positioned against The Million Dollar Man at WrestleMania VI, “The Snake” used his venomous tongue to send a haunting warning to the wealthy scoundrel before their confrontation.
Taking issue with the way the Million Dollar Champion treated the less fortunate, Roberts vowed that DiBiase would become “a victim of your own greed, wallowing in the muck of avarice.” Did the average 10-year-old have any idea what “the muck of avarice” was? Most 30-year-olds probably didn’t, but there was no missing “The Snake’s” intention. No cheap insults, no bathroom humor, just a gripping message, delivered clearly, passionately and without flaw. That’s exactly how it’s done. — R.M.
“I was born with a golden spoon in my mouth.” — Ric Flair on Nov. 13, 1987 in NWA
At Starrcade 1987, Ric Flair successfully defended the NWA Heavyweight Championship against Ron Garvin inside a steel cage. In the days before the historic event, however, The Nature Boy appeared on “World Championship Wrestling” to emphasize what separated him from everyone else.
While being interviewed by Tony Schiavone, Flair’s legendary intensity took over, and his confidence and ego took centerstage. Never shy about touting his ample talent, good looks and expensive wardrobe, The Nature Boy revealed in this rant that he’s had it all since birth. After all, he was “born with a golden spoon in my mouth!” Credited as the creator of “swag” by LeBron James, Flair’s first-class lifestyle has been mimicked by countless impostors, but Naitch never had to force it. He was born that way. — K.P.
“I am the best wrestler in the world.” — CM Punk on June 27, 2011 in WWE
CM Punk was already many WWE fans’ favorite wrestler before June 27, 2011. As a mat purist with a counterculture aesthetic and a drive to always have the best match on the card, The Straight Edge Superstar was the champion of a loyal fanbase that had been following him since his days as the king of the independent wrestling scene. But during the course of a passionate, honest tirade in Las Vegas, Punk went from cult hero to the biggest breakout star of the new decade.
With unprecedented references to Ring of Honor, New Japan Pro Wrestling, the hard truths of locker room politics, the hierarchy of WWE and a shoutout to his best friend — a former WWE competitor — Punk announced himself as the most exciting sports-entertainment rebel since “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and launched WWE into a brave new world. We’re still waiting on those ice cream bars, though. — Z.L.
“Cane Dewey.” — Cactus Jack on June 13, 1995 in ECW
Mick Foley arrived in ECW as one of the ring’s most notoriously physical competitors and began tangling with the likes of Sabu and Tommy Dreamer in increasingly vicious contests. Eventually, though, Cactus became disenchanted with the notion of putting his body through tremendous pain for the amusement of ravenous crowds.
The Philadelphia faithful were hungry for brutality, as evidenced by a sign in the crowd at the ECW Arena that called for an assault on The Hardcore Legend’s 3-year-old son, Dewey. The words “Cane Dewey” convinced Foley to abandon his barbaric ways and adopt a persona that made him one of the most despised performers in ECW. Eighteen years and a WWE Hall of Fame induction later, the soliloquy remains the best example of Foley’s remarkable microphone skills, and a reminder that one of the most savage competitors in history was also one of the sharpest. — Z.L.
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Mick and Dewey Foley reflect on "Cane Dewey."
"That’s hard times!” — Dusty Rhodes on Oct. 29, 1985 in Mid-Atlantic
More than any other Superstar, Dusty Rhodes was looked upon as the voice of the common man. That distinction was made very clear on Oct. 29, 1985, when The American Dream delivered a pointed soliloquy that has come to be known simply as “Hard Times.”
Still recovering after a punishing assault from Ric Flair and his Four Horsemen, Dusty looked out upon a national audience, but talked directly to The Nature Boy. The Dream decried Flair’s lavish lifestyle while speaking of Detroit’s struggling auto workers and the encroaching impact of machines on the American workforce. On the lips of a lesser talker, the interview may have gotten lost in mixed messages, but the incomparable Rhodes gamely ingratiated himself to a working class that was down, but not out. Hurt, but still fighting. Like thousands of people watching at home, Dusty’s belly was just a little big, but he was bad and, brother, he would overcome. — R.M.
“Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your @$$.” — “Stone Cold” Steve Austin on June 23, 1996 in WWE
There are a number of moments that can be credited as the unofficial start of The Attitude Era. The Montreal Screwjob, Bret Hart’s uncensored Raw tirade and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s first WWE Title win all get due credit, but one interview is sure to be in consideration whenever one ponders the very question.
King of the Ring 1996 witnessed the birth of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and the most famous phrase in WWE history — “Austin 3:16.” After defeating Bible-thumping Jake “The Snake” Roberts, The Texas Rattlesnake ascended to his throne where he was asked about his victory. What followed not only changed the landscape of sports-entertainment, but also propelled “Stone Cold” into becoming the most popular WWE Superstar of all time. Just like that, WWE had “Attitude.” — K.P.